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Today MAKE’s latest Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing hit the shelves. Here are the results of our big 3D printer shootout. Click here to see how we conducted our tests. Get your copy of the Make: Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing 2014 here, for all the in-depth reviews, plus projects, tips, profiles and more!

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The Best From Our Tests

See the full reviews in the MAKE Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing 2014, on newsstands now!

SIP06-PrintrbotSimple

Best Value

PrintrBot Simple
Runner-Up: Ditto+


SIP06-MakerbotRep2_pi

Best In Class: Prosumer FFF

Replicator 2
Runner-Up: Ultimaker 2


SIP06-UpPlus2_pi

Best In Class: Just Hit Print

Up Plus 2


SIP06-Felix20

Surprise Hit

Felix 2.0


SIP06-Formlabs-Form1

Best In Class: Resin

Form 1
Runner-Up: B9 Creator


SIP06-LulzbotTAZ

Best Documentation

Lulzbot TAZ
Runners-Up: Replicator 2, Felix 2.0, Ditto+, Form 1


SIP06-ULTIMAKER2_A--3924

Best Open-Architecture

Ultimaker
Runners-Up: PrintrBot, Deezmaker, Lulzbot


How They Compare

Through our testing, the machines began to organize into specific groupings. Here’s the shakedown.

Ultra Compact

Trading volume for incredible portability, at a surprising price.


“Just Hit Print”

Don’t need to print big and don’t want to tweak print quality? These printers are for you.


SLA/Resin Printers

Exceptionally detailed prints; build volume is somewhat limited. Artist’s and designer’s tools of choice.


Prosumer FFF

We found these machines to have professional reliability and robust software; well suited for engineers and design firms.


Surprise Hits

These printers pleasantly impressed us. Their print quality separated them from the “Middle of the Road” crowd.


Experimental

These prototype models in our tests will be revised before they make their way out into the world.


Middle of the Road

Not standouts in our testing, but deserving consideration. We were unable to dial these in satisfactorily during testing but look forward to their continued improvement.


Buyer Beware

These printers did not perform well, arrived broken, or broke during the testing.


Looking Forward: Our Recommendations to Printer Vendors

  • Untethered printing is good; the more onboard controls for this, the better.
  • PLA cooling fans work wonders. Having one on all PLA-optimized machines will be a great benefit to users.
  • More super-compact, durable, portable printers: Rapid prototyping is much easier when you can bring your machine with you.
  • Automating functions like platform and nozzle leveling go a long way to solving the issues faced by all 3D printer users, particularly beginners.

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